The Newsroom

Icon of diamond

'Looking Into the Future': Miraj Diamond Glass Production Launches New Facility in Gurnee

Chicago Tribune/News-Sun- September 21, 2018

Yadira Sanchez Olson


Technology that its backers say promises to be part of the next wave of electronics was presented this week during a tour for investors, dignitaries and media at the Gurnee-based high-tech manufacturing company AKHAN Semiconductors on Wednesday.

Before the tour began on Wednesday, Adam Khan, the company’s founder and CEO, told the crowd he was happy to be unveiling the company’s new production space at the facility on Lakeside Drive.

He thanked Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik, state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-14th, for having supported his team since the move to that building in 2012, two years after Khan, a Warren Township High School graduate, founded the company.

Once it undergoes a final inspection next week, the facility’s “clean room,” as it is called, will produce and integrate Miraj Diamonds, the company’s patented material designed to make a display screen six times stronger, 10 times harder and run more than 800 times cooler.

“We can actually control the color, thickness and consistency all the way to the atomic level of properties,” Khan said of the lab-grown diamonds. The application of the electronic-grade diamonds has the capability to improve how consumers and even the U.S. government utilizes gadgets, such as cell phones and aircraft, according to Jeffrey Miller, an AKHAN sales advisor.

In August, AKHAN and U.S. Army officials announced the Miraj Diamond technology was selected to be part of the Army Expeditionary Technology Search, an approach that links innovators directly with Army labs.

Khan said he’s been waiting quite a while for this capability, and so has the rest of the technology community. He began his diamond work at age 19 at the University of Illinois Chicago as a research assistant. “The world has been anxiously awaiting the deployment of this technology,” Khan said. “We're very proud to scale it here from Gurnee, Ill., my former hometown, and hopefully it will be henceforth known as the diamond prairie worldwide.”

On Wednesday, Bush joked that she looks forward to the day when she can fling her phone and not have to have it replaced due to a cracked screen. She praised Khan and his team for making Lake County a part of the innovation she’s sure will soon be ubiquitous in a variety of tools that used today.

“These are exactly the kind of businesses — the kinds of dreams — that we want to be investing in Illinois. I believe that this is looking into the future,” Bush said. For the rollout of the new production, 54 employee positions will be created, and AKHAN officials expect that will grow to about 200 in the next two to three years. Carl Shurboff, the company’s chief operating officer, said the company has intentionally sought to work with local agencies and businesses, including a Lake Zurich company that designed the exhaust system of the clean room.

“These are exactly the kind of businesses — the kinds of dreams — that we want to be investing in Illinois. I believe that this is looking into the future,” Bush said. For the rollout of the new production, 54 employee positions will be created, and AKHAN officials expect that will grow to about 200 in the next two to three years. Carl Shurboff, the company’s chief operating officer, said the company has intentionally sought to work with local agencies and businesses, including a Lake Zurich company that designed the exhaust system of the clean room.

Why Tech Firm Sees Gurnee As the 'Diamond Prairie,' Home to New Cellphone, Warfare Material

Daily Herald- September 19, 2018

Doug T. Graham


If lab-grown diamonds are going to be the next big thing in cellphones and an important part of future warfare, then Wednesday was a historic day in Gurnee.

AKHAN Semiconductors, a high-tech manufacturer based in the village, debuted its new clean room to investors, local leaders and the news media Wednesday morning. The facility will produce the company's patented material, Miraj Diamond, designed to make glass stronger, harder and better able to dissipate heat.

Adam Khan, the company's founder, CEO and namesake, told the crowd it is an exciting time to begin manufacturing. "The world has been anxiously awaiting the deployment of this technology," Khan said. "We're very proud to scale it here from Gurnee, Illinois, my former hometown, and hopefully it will be henceforth known as the diamond prairie worldwide."

Miraj Diamond is made by spreading microscopic diamonds along a glass surface a few nanometers apart. The glass is placed in a machine that pumps in methane and other gases and applies heat, making the diamonds grow in all directions until they coat the surface.

The company plans to debut Miraj Diamond next year in smartphone screens. Company leaders say it will make the screen six times stronger, 10 times harder and more than 800 times cooler. Khan said his company has been inundated with orders from big-name cellphone companies.

AKHAN also has received interest from the Pentagon. The company is one of 125 to advance past the first round of a U.S. Army-sponsored competition called the Expeditionary Technology Search. It seeks to engage commercial companies that wouldn't normally participate in defense work.

Last month, AKHAN presented its Miraj Diamond prototype to Army officials in Chicago. They believe the material's heat dissipation will work well in directed energy systems -- laser weapons. AKHAN engineers believe Miraj Diamond-coated components in laser weapons won't melt, and they can coat military equipment or vehicles in Miraj Diamond to better withstand heat from enemy lasers.

Khan said the presentation went well and the company is waiting to hear back. If it wins the competition, the company could receive up to $331,000 in prize money and a contract with the Pentagon. Local officials including state Sen. Melinda Bush and Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik were among those who toured the new facility. Khan said the clean room will undergo a final inspection next week, then be enclosed before work begins.

AKHAN Semiconductor Selected for US Army's xTechSearch Pitch Competition

Photonics Media- September 10, 2018

AKHAN Semiconductor Inc., a technology company specializing in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronics-grade diamonds, has announced that its Miraj Diamond technology has been selected by the U.S. Army to be part of the inaugural Army Expeditionary Technology Search (xTechSearch).

xTechSearch aims to attract engagement with American innovators in the entrepreneurial community, small businesses, and other nontraditional defense partners. Such entities will pitch novel technology solutions directly to Army leadership. The proposal calls for the integration of AKHAN’s proprietary diamond technology in current air and missile defense and high-energy laser systems, thereby elevating component mechanical and optical properties in support of the xTechSearch air and missile defense technology focus area.

“Integration with our Miraj Diamond technology will dramatically improve component and system reliability and performance in extreme environments, protecting against system failure issues that arise from overheating and delamination while simultaneously maintaining the stringent performance demands incumbent upon these systems,” said Adam Khan, founder and CEO of AKHAN.

“AKHAN has demonstrated a deep expertise in developing innovative diamond-based solutions for optical technologies,” said Carl Churboff, president and CEO of AKHAN. “Our Miraj Diamond glass products include consumer-facing applications such as our smartphone display glass, as well as aerospace and defense applications, such as optical windows, mirrors, and lenses. We look forward to announcing new capabilities for the platform in the near future.”

Akhan fabricates electronics-grade diamonds as functional semiconductors. xTechSearch is a prize competition sponsored by the assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics, and technology.

Gurnee Diamond Maker Competes for Chance to Make Glass for U.S. Army Laser Weapons

Daily Herald- August 13, 2018

Doug T. Graham


A Gurnee manufacturer specializing in lab-grown diamonds is vying for a chance to work for the U.S. Army to build better laser weapons and other futuristic military technology.

AKHAN Semiconductor was named Monday as one of 125 companies to advance past the first round of a U.S. Army-sponsored competition called the Expeditionary Technology Search. It seeks to engage commercial companies that wouldn't normally participate in defense work.

A representative from the U.S. Army did not immediately return requests to comment on why AKHAN was selected. AKHAN's entry in the competition is its new patented material called Miraj Diamond, which is designed to make the glass stronger, harder and allows the material to dissipate heat, company officials said.

Miraj Diamond is made by spreading microscopic diamonds along a glass surface a few nanometers apart. The glass is placed in a machine that pumps in methane and other gases and applies heat, making the diamonds grow in all directions until they coat the surface.

Miraj Diamond is made by spreading microscopic diamonds along a glass surface a few nanometers apart. The glass is placed in a machine that pumps in methane and other gases and applies heat, making the diamonds grow in all directions until they coat the surface.

Unlike the laser cannons sci-fi fans might be familiar with, modern laser weapons are designed to focus a lot of energy on a target to heat it up, said Ernie Schirmann, an AKHAN senior engineer. "You could use it to lock on to a sensitive component of an aircraft, like a guidance system, to disable it," Schirmann said. "Or some are purely destructive, like burning a hole in a target." A big challenge is such systems become so hot they melt, he said. AKHAN engineers hope using Miraj Diamond-coated components will prevent similar meltdowns. Shurboff said the company is also looking into ways to coat military equipment or vehicles in Miraj Diamond so they can better dissipate heat from enemy lasers.

AKHAN opened in Gurnee in November 2015. It has 14 employees, mostly engineers, physicists and administrators. Adam Khan, the company's founder, CEO and namesake, said more employees will be added this fall when construction on a Miraj Diamond production line and clean room are completed." Diamond is interesting in that it isn't as mature as silicon or some of the other materials on the market," Khan said. "We're really pioneering the commercialization of it and will be dictating how it gets massively scaled." Khan and members of the team will make a presentation to Army officials for the next phase of the competition Tuesday in Chicago. The winner could receive up to $331,000 in prize money and pen a contract with the Army.

AKHAN Names Dan Gravelle Interim Chief Financial Officer

Yahoo! Finance- June 5, 2018

AKHAN Semiconductor, a technology company specializing in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronics-grade diamonds, announced today that Dan Gravelle, has assumed the role of interim Chief Financial Officer of AKHAN Semiconductor, effective June 1, 2018, succeeding Kristie King, who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Gravelle, an accomplished executive with extensive experience transforming businesses around the world, will play a key role in supporting investments the company is making to scale production of its Miraj Diamond® products and introduce innovative approaches that will strengthen its competitive position. He has more than 25 years of start-up and late stage business and financial experience across a number of key areas, including corporate strategy and finance, mergers and acquisitions, treasury and balance sheet management and new business development. He also has a proven track record of driving shareholder value creation, strong financial performance, deal-making and building high-performing teams. Gravelle earned his undergraduate degree from California State University, Chico and his Finance MBA from Golden Gate University.

“We have built a strong executive leadership team, introducing game-changing technology into the global market. We are excited to add Dan’s insight and expertise that will support our company in the next-phase of our strategic plan and in building our global enterprise” said Adam Khan, Founder & Chief Executive Officer. “I look forward to working with him in bridging the ecosystems of Silicon Valley and the Diamond Prairie we are growing in our Northern Illinois headquarters.”

“On behalf of all of us at AKHAN Semiconductor, I want to thank Kristie for her many contributions to the growth and development of our company over the last two years.” said Carl Shurboff, President & Chief Operating Officer at AKHAN. “We wish Kristie great success in her future endeavors.”

High Performance Diamond Semiconductor Devices Coming Soon! - AKHAN's Miraj Diamond® Technology Granted Key Patents and Trademarks

IEEE Electronics360- May 31, 2018

Gary Kardys


Diamond-based semiconductors have marked performance advantages over silicon and compound semiconductors. The issuance of key TIPO patents and US Trademarks for AKHAN’s Miraj Diamond® technology signals more products with diamond chips will be showing up soon. The TIPO patents are important because Taiwan has become a major center for semiconductor and electronic manufacturing.

The new Miraj diamond technology is now poised to become the key enabler for advancements on complex devices such as high speed/power transistors (e.g., high-frequency field-effect transistors (FETs)), RF and microwave electronics, high-power switches, MEMS and higher efficiency passive devices. Akhan fabricated 100 GHz diamond demonstration chips over two years ago. These faster, thinner and cooler devices will result in faster supercomputers, advanced radar and telecommunications, hyper-efficient hybrid vehicles, robust electronics for extreme environments, and next-generation avionics instruments. Diamond MEMS devices can be specifically designed for the capacitive switching arrays to provide better dynamic tuning of high-end smartphone antennas. “The timing for our diamond-based semiconductor technology’s market debut could not be better,” said AKHAN CEO Adam Khan. “By using man-made diamonds at the core of our new chip technology, we are ushering in a new generation of semiconductor solutions that operate at higher temperatures, are thinner and require less power. These are exactly the attributes required for all the products that make up the Internet of Things.” While current silicon technology has been reaching its limits due to interconnection and crosstalk problems, Khan believes diamond technology will extend Moore’s law.

The AKHAN diamond process converts methane gas into the nanocrystalline Miraj diamond material using a microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition (MPCVD) or plasma ball reactor. Their process is more environmentally friendly compared to silicon technology because it consumes 20% less water and could convert waste methane gas into a semiconductor. Akhan’s proprietary doping technology, which reportedly is more effective than nitrogen doping, should even enable the development of quantum computer chips.

Akhan is also commercializing "Miraj diamond glass" sheets for smartphone and VR display applications, Miraj diamond glass should be six times stronger and ten times harder than chemically hardened aluminosilicate glass (e.g. Corning Gorilla Glass or Schott BK-7, fused silica, and sapphire.

The company's comprehensive Miraj Diamond Electronics platform enables fabrication of complex active (FETs, switches) and passive (Schottky diodes) microelectronics devices. Diamond's dielectric strength is several orders of magnitude higher than silicon (1 x 107 diamond vs. 3 x 105 silicon), which allows thinning of devices. Fabricated devices using Miraj Diamond® technology perform at higher speeds and efficiencies while being more than 1,000 times thinner than other advanced diamond and silicon technologies.

The race is on to make iPhone, Samsung Galaxy screen glass unbreakable

CNBC- April 26, 2018

Maggie Overfelt


Smartphone makers Apple and Samsung spend billions on research and development each year so that our smartphones and other connected devices continue to evolve into high-tech works of art. Recent reports claim Apple is working on an iPhone with touchless gesture control and/or a curved screen, while its main rival is working on the first foldable Samsung Galaxy X and a Samsung wearable that wraps around our wrists and can be configured into an upright position to be used like a smartphone. Bigger, better and thinner screens are a big part of all these efforts.

But one fundamental technology challenge that is surprisingly difficult to solve is glass. What consumers really want, after spending hundreds of dollars on a new smartphone, like the pricey iPhone, is glass that won't break when dropped. According to market research firm IDC, more than 95 million smartphones are damaged each year from drops, the No. 1 cause of harm to handheld devices (No. 2 is exposure to liquid). That's roughly $29.8 billion worth of smartphones.

"Proving that a device is durable is essential to convince people to pay more for a phone," said Francisco Jeronimo, senior research director for European mobile devices at IDC, which in 2016 surveyed phone makers, retailers and repair centers around the world about smartphone issues. "Consumers are a lot more concerned about what happens to their phone and it being able to handle certain accidents. When people spend $1,000 on a cellphone, they don't expect it to crack the first time they drop it on the floor."

Creating phones that are technologically sophisticated, attractively thin and light, wider-faced and sturdy means the screen glass itself has to be a top priority, Jeronimo said. Big smartphone brands, special materials start-ups and university researchers are locked in a race to discover unbreakable glass — or something like it.

Glass makers' big challenge today is figuring out how to keep cover glass strong as manufacturers demand thinner, flexible plates for their new phone designs — think curved screens, bevel- and notch-less faces, foldable displays, and glass backs for a more luxurious feel and better transmission of data. Materials break at their weakest points, and as glass gets thinner, it becomes more vulnerable to being punctured.

"If we were at the thickness that was introduced with the first smartphone, your phone wouldn't break in a normal drop event," said John Bayne, vice president and general manager of Gorilla Glass at Corning, the 167-year-old glass maker whose Gorilla 5 offering runs about 0.4 mm to 1.3 mm thick. "Can I thin down the glass to 0.5 mm to make a sleeker, cooler design? There's a give-and-take [in the design process]; you can't solve it all in the glass."

Corning, which invests more than three times the dollar amount in R&D than its peers, according to Morningstar, recently received a $200 million gift from Apple to help develop more versatile and likely thinner glass in Corning's Harrodsburg, Kentucky, plant.

Synthetic Diamond Screens Enter the Picture

Akhan Semiconductor wants to coat your smartphone face with diamond. Not the bling kind, but a synthetic diamond-based film. According to third-party strength tests, glass treated with Miraj Diamond Glass is six times harder — and more scratch resistant — than Corning's Gorilla Glass 5, currently the strongest display glass on the market.

"We're always careful to say that nothing is unbreakable or unshatterable," said Adam Khan, founder and CEO of Akhan Semiconductor, a six-year-old materials science start-up north of Chicago. "In terms of scratches and strength, [Miraj] is definitely a lot harder and stronger than the existing offerings."

The first smartphones treated with Miraj Diamond will ship sometime next year, although Khan, who licenses the technology directly to device makers, won't yet name which brands. The company is also developing glass for watches. He also notes that because of the way diamond dissipates heat, it allows smaller devices to run more efficiently. "You can run a higher level of power through it," Khan said.

Read more at CNBC.com

AKHAN’s Miraj Diamond Technology Awarded Taiwan Patent and US Trademark

Semiconductor Today- April 5, 2018

AKHAN Semiconductor Inc of Gurnee, IL, USA, which specializes in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronics-grade diamond as functional semiconductors, has obtained official notifications from both the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) for the Miraj Diamond trademark registration and patent allowance.

The official registration of the Miraj Diamond mark by the USPTO (Registration No. 5,438,740) follows nearly six years of completed filings fulfilled by firm following its launch in December 2012. The TIPO issued patent I615943 is the second AKHAN patent to be granted by the country. The patent is a foreign counterpart of other issued and pending patents owned by AKHAN that are used in its Miraj Diamond products. The firm says that the claims protect uses far beyond the existing applications, including microprocessors. Covering the base materials common to nearly all semiconductor components, the intellectual property can be realized in everything from diodes, transistors and power inverters to fully functioning diamond chips such as integrated circuitry.

“The official declarations from both the USPTO and TIPO significantly add to the critical protections of the Miraj Diamond intellectual property portfolio and brand,” says founder & CEO Adam Khan. “Less than six years after our founding, the Miraj Diamond trademark is not only gaining global attention from the consumer electronics and semiconductor market places, but is also synonymous for next-generation performance, breakthrough capability, and flagship technology with diamond,” he adds.

“The notices of these issuances are very timely as we complete the construction of our cleanroom pilot production facility in northern Illinois,” notes president & chief operating officer Carl Shurboff, who highlights the targeted 2019 launch of Miraj Diamond Glass products for Smartphone devices and the concurrent development of Miraj Diamond electronics products for aerospace and defense.

“Safeguarding the technology and trademark from infringement, improper use and other challenges benefits not only our OEM customers, by preserving their market value and time-based exclusivity, but also our shareholders, corporate development partners, and technology partners around the world,” says Jeffrey G. Miller, sales advisor to the board.

The first phone with a diamond screen will come in 2019

CNET- February 5, 2018

Jessica Dolcourt


The superstrong glass is being tested even as you read this.

If dropping your phone and cracking the screen is your worst phone nightmare, you're not alone.

Phonemakers use chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass, shatterproof coatings and sometimes sapphire crystal toppers to help ward off cracks should your phone take a tumble. Now, one company says it's working with a phonemaker to test the first phone screen made with diamond glass.

You just have to wait until 2019.

Screen breakage is a common concern. Akhan's diamond glass uses a nanocrystal pattern that randomly arranges the crystals, instead of lining them up along their crystal planes -- that arrangement discourages deep cracks from forming and damaging the materials underneath.

Made with lab-grown diamonds, Akhan Semiconductor's Miraj Diamond Glass promises to be stronger than other materials used to cover the phone's fragile electronic display. It can be applied in conjunction with other materials, like Gorilla Glass, as a top layer.

When I first learned about diamond glass last year, Adam Khan, Akhan's CEO, promised that we'd see it in its first device by the end of 2017. We didn't.

Now, Khan says that the promising new technology is being actively tested with devicemakers, the identities of which Khan isn't ready to reveal. Akhan's partners are stress-testing the diamond glass' strength, and making sure the surface transmits electrical signals well, so your finger can navigate the touchscreen without a glitch.

Before diamond glass can come to a phone, the partners need to work out the details of production and manufacturing using a new material like diamond. They need to make sure that the diamond glass coating gets applied evenly on top of the cover material, which could be Gorilla Glass or a proprietary make.

They're also working to minimize the diamond glass' reflectance, which means how much light it bounces back at the user. Phone screens with higher reflectance are harder to read because you're interfering with glare. That prompts you to turn up the brightness to combat the glare, which then drains the phone's battery faster.

While diamond glass could come to any device with a screen, Khan says his company's only working with one vendor in each category, starting with a single phone and single aftermarket screen protector. If all goes well, it could expand into fitness bands and beyond.

2019 is a long time to wait for a phone that wants to sooth your fears of shattered glass. Don't expect it to be cheap, either. The process of making and applying lab-grown diamond to a phone's cover material comes at a cost. Expect it to debut on a pricier handset that promises a "shatterproof" screen, similar to the Motorola Moto Z2 Force, which I dropped 28 times to see if its screen would crack.

The countdown to diamond screens starts now.